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East Village: History in the Making

by Shirley Ferguson

East Village is unlike any other neighborhood in Milwaukee, a fact confirmed by the unanimous approval of the Wisconsin Historical Society to add the area to the National Register of Historic Places. Official word was received on January 21, 2004, that East Village was entered in the National Register. The East Village is a working class neighborhood on the lower east side just north of Brady Street. The district is made of 283 structures established and built by Polish immigrants starting in the 1860s. Houses generally were very small and often housed 3 or 4 families. Architecturally the neighborhood is brimming with restoration opportunities; that process will be easier now because the National Register status brings the benefit of Federal and/or state Income Tax Credits for renovation projects that meet its guidelines. With East Village on the National Register, Milwaukee joins cities such as Boston and San Francisco that added similar neighborhoods to the register years ago with great success. Their unique historic districts with small, older houses that have been transformed into some of the nation’s most admired neighborhoods. The sought-after Beacon Hill neighborhood in Boston is one of America’s centerpieces of historic preservation, yet the tiny houses, built for workers and servants, seldom exceed 1000 square feet in size. East Village is north of Brady Street between Humboldt, Warren, and Kane.
by Shirley Ferguson